Steve Garfield is a video blogging expert who has been on the edge of the field since before YouTube (I know, I can’t remember that far back either, but it was only 2005!). He is the author of “Get Seen: Online Video Secrets to Building Your Business.” When he came and spoke to my class, he had some advice: Own your own name on the web (as he does, which you can see from the title of this post), and post, post, post, which clearly, I don’t always follow.
Since he began shooting video, his stuff has been on CNN and the BBC. He has been maintaining a blog since 1997, which puts him way ahead of the curve in terms of journalism on the internet, and he definitely uses that to his advantage. He did mention that when he first started video-blogging, he was afraid it would get popular, because popularity means high hosting costs which means more money out of his pocket. And journalists don’t have a lot of that to spare.
Back in the olden days of video, he used to bring his digital camera and his video camera everywhere. I can’t even imagine what that must have been like; I feel overwhelmed when I have a camera and a notebook. But now, he said, he only brings his iPhone. As a new convert to smart phones (I activated my Droid today!) this intrigued me. Could you really do the same quality work with a mobile device? Apparently you can. Garfield uses a program called Qik. Qik lets you shoot video and have a live stream on your site, blog, etc. and he can post his stuff directly to his Twitter feed and his YouTube channel and his website. And I know, faithful readers, you are thinking “Chelsea, no one reads your blog, why do you need to be streaming live?” But someday, my friends, someday I will be reporting and people will want to know what I am seeing that very second and I will be able to show them.
He focused a lot on the need to keep it simple and keep it light. When he was covering the 2008 election, he didn’t just have straight interviews. He started at his kitchen table with his wife during the debates, he talked to people at poling places, he kind of got kicked out of a polling place (the woman working wasn’t up to date on her laws and didn’t know that he could legally film there). He kept it interesting. Even though his clip was one of a zillion to be posted during the election, the BBC chose his footage to show the rest of the world what America is like during an election.
Of course, us students were thinking in our heads “this guy has such a great job, but how does he do it?” Clearly, graduation is weighing heavily in our minds. So really, how do you make a living out of this kind of journalism?
“Get a job that makes you money. This is a passion. Before I did this full-time, I worked in marketing. My passion was audio and video production, but I couldn’t support myself. So i had another job and did this on the side. All of my frequent blogging made me a sort of expert on this new technology. Consulting, testing equipment, that kind of thing. I don’t make direct money from that, but it’s the other things that generate money. Get all the experience and get really good at it and get known. I wouldn’t not do something just because it’s free, you need to get the experience. I started out volunteering and learning stuff, and that’s how you get hired.”